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Written by Carole

One of the hardest parts of raising chickens is creating the balance between number of chickens and space allocation. I have read many different opinions on how much space to allow for an enclosed chicken coop per chicken. The most common I have read is:

The most common minimum spacing recommendations per chicken are:
4 square feet in the coop and 10 square feet in an attached run. or if you choose to confine them to a chicken coop it is 10 sq. feet. (That’s where the chickens are locked in their living space all the time.)

Recently I moved the 24 Rhode Island Red a mix of pullets and cockerels to another pen since now they are about 3 months old. They are growing daily and this makes it hard to come up with the required spacing needed to keep healthy chickens, not to mention happy. Utilizing the spacing requirements above, I do not have near enough allocated for each chicken.

When space is confined I find that there is an over-abundance of pecking and chasing going on. And within the confined space they find the weakest one and go about pecking on this chicken until blood is drawn and that is just the beginning. Nothing stops these chickens once they see something out of the ordinary–a feather missing, a bald spot, new growth, etc.–especially on their own breed.

Right now I have three chickens in confinement due to the cannibalism. One of them is so bad that they pecked all the feathers and skin down to the bone. I would show you pictures but it is down right gross. We are in the process of modifying the chicken coop at this time to allow them access to the outside for some free-ranging. I would say it is time for them to get a break into the outdoors.

We have in our chicken coop plans building more pens. They are still in the planning stages since money is always a factor. We have the plans ready though and will build two more additional pens in the very near future to allow me to continue to raise chickens that are healthy and happy.

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5 Responses to “Raising Chickens and the Balance of Space versus Chickens”

  1. I always lean to more conservative number. For example, if there is a set of chicken coop plans that recommends 6 to 8 chickens, I’d always have 6. You can always add one or two more if everything is going well. Its a bit harder to remove them if they are overcrowded because you have to keep them somewhere else.

    Clance McDonalds last blog post..Chicken Coop Plans Review – Building a Chicken Coop

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  2. I’ve experienced that too, Carole.. and once they start, it’s almost impossible to break them from it!
    My Dad used to put tar on their backs, but I’ve had the bad experience of hens picking each others hineys! ARRRGH!

    Farm Chick Paulas last blog post..Dreaming of what will be….

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  3. I have to agree with Clance, one big secret to happy and healthy Chickens (and lots of eggs) is to keep them comfortable, so over-crowding is a big no no. :)

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  4. our 26 chickens are totally free range outside. They come into their 10 by 10 foot chicken room when they want to set for a while before they lay their eggs. Then they leave for the great outdoors to eat bugs, greens, dust bathe, and just be chickens. After they put themselves to “bed” each night, I lock them in for safety. They have 13 nesting boxes on two walls to select from when they want to lay their eggs. They never peck or bother each other.

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  5. thanks for sharing… i was searching the same info …

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